Turkmen woman co-chair in the peoples’ municipality in Girê Spî
Girê Spî is forming mechanisms that allow for more participation from the people. The municipality’s co-mayor is a Turkmen woman, Medina Müslim. Müslim says they include all ethnic groups in the municipality’s work.
The town of Girê Spî has been experiencing a great change since it joined the democratic autonomous administration in Rojava.
All sections of society continue organizing since the beginning of the Rojava revolution, July 19, 2012. Municipality services are among the most significant in these efforts. Rojava democratic autonomous administration aims to provide municipality services in fundamental needs such as electricity and water without discrimination, justly and equally. To this end, they have accelerated organising the society by having the people directly participate in the efforts. One of the most important locales of these efforts is the town of Girê Spî.
SOCIAL DIVERSITY REFLECTED IN THE MUNICIPALITY’S WORK
The town of Girê Spî holds a special place in the Kobanê Canton. There is a high Arab population and the town is home to two seperate religions. Arabs, Kurds, Armenians and Turkmens live in the town. The Girê Spî municipality is the most important institution that this diversity reflects on. The diversity of the people is reflected in the municipality administration and staff. One of the co-mayors is Arab and the other is a Turkmen woman, with Kurdish deputies.
Co-mayor Medina Müslim was studying in the university in Raqqa but left the city after the ISIS invasion. Müslim deals with both the infrastructure in town and her young daughter, Zilan.
NO ETHNICITIES WERE EXCLUDED
Müslim says after the ISIS gangs were removed from the town on June 15, 2015 and the people returned the municipality services in Girê Spî started again, taking into consideration the needs of the people and the different ethnicity groups in town and continues: “The municipality services picked up where they left off after people returned. Everybody continued their job in electricity, water, highways services, etc. No ethnicity was excluded.”
Müslim said the first thing they did after the relaunching of the services was to repair the municipality building that they are using now and assessed the efforts as such: “The gangs had rendered the building unusable. We procured necessities such as generators and dynamos that make the water wells work to fulfill the needs of the people. The Kurdish neighborhoods were damaged and pillaged, we helped clean them and we reopened the roads. All the infrastructure is usable again right now. We are now in an effort to meet the needs of the village areas after we finished with the town’s needs. We provide services to the villages with the 3 municipalities we set up in the field: Tıl Xedır, Yabse and Tıl Fındır. ISIS gangs had burned the city and wrote slogans on the remaining walls, so we carried out a painting effort for the town in green and gray.
INFRASTRUCTURE PROBLEMS SOLVED
Müslim said the town’s electricity came from Tişrin dam mostly and that there was no water shortage in Girê Spî and continued: “Our town has a high potential in water, so we achieve positive results on the wells we dig for water. We are in the process of building two parks. We have utilized billboards to spread awareness about cleanliness in the city. The lights on the avenues and streets in town are in working condition.”
Müslim stressed that they work in accordance with the Kobanê Canton but also within the unique conditions of the town and assessed the workings of the Girê Spî municipality as: “We have the co-mayorship system in both working and administration. We base our administration on a democratic and participatory system that ensures representation for women, men and four distinct ethnic groups in town.”
Müslim said the municipality was open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., and the cleanliness of the city was under watch during these hours. Emphasizing that the Cizîr and Kobanê cantons sent aid when the Girê Spî municipality entered into service, Müslim continued: “We started the municipality services with 20 people, and then the need for employees grew as the services increased so we hired new people. We ensure equal participation in our hiring practices without favoring any ethnicity. We have 20 employees dealing with the administrative work. We have an archive department, a council and the municipal police force conduct meticulous work in inspecting the market and ensuring the food is safe for public health. There are 37 employees in the cleaning department.”
WOMEN CAN NOW WORK IN ALL AREAS
Müslim expressed that back in the days of the old regime and ISIS, women were excluded from all aspects of life and they were only allowed to be teachers, and made important analyses on the place of women in the democratic autonomous administration: “Women couldn’t leave the home in the days of the regime and ISIS. Now, women take their place in all institutions in all areas and participate in the efforts. The Rojava revolution has been a women’s revolution, women found themselves in this revolution. This is not just for the Kurdish women, the Kurdish women have sacrificed a lot in establishing the revolution but they also wanted Arab, Assyrian, Turkmen and Armenian women to see that the revolution was for all women, and all women should see the revolution as their own. When I first started working, it was hard for me. Old habits created obstructions for me. But now there is progress, although the work is hard. We are in harmony as the co-mayors. We work in understanding and solidarity, together.”
WE DON’T ACCEPT THE GAMES PLAYED ON THE TURKMENS
Müslim stressed that she is a daughter of the Turkmen people in Syria and said she doesn’t accept the games the Turkish state played on the Turkmen people there, and continued: “The Turkish state should stop playing with the Turkmen people living in Syria and Iraq. They should stop trying to pull the Turkmens in to ISIS and Al Nusra gangs. Turkmens are a people of this land and they want to live in fraternity and equality with the other peoples here. This revolution is their revolution too. The Turkish state seeks to use the blood ties to influence the Turkmens, and succeeds up to some extent. But we have lived in fraternity with the other peoples in these lands, and we will continue to do so. The Turkmen people should claim this revolution their own and should participate in all areas, with women and men.”
Concluding her speech with pointing out the embargo on Rojava, Müslim said: “We will prevail, despite all embargos. We as the different peoples of this town are in agreement, we have the resolve to act together and show solidarity. The most important proof of this is our lands, the yield will keep us from needing anybody else. We continue within our means, we are aware of the hardships we are facing. The residents of the town are aware of this and they have the resolve to live within their means as well.”